Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity

Supporting New Models for Protected Areas

​Only the Amazon can rival the Mekong River in richness of animal species—including such charismatic creatures as the white-shouldered ibis (Pseudibis davisoni), the Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) and the Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), all globally threatened.

That’s why in April 2013 the Cambodian government set aside a 56 kilometer stretch of the Mekong as a management and conservation site for biodiversity and fishery resources—the second Mekong section formally protected by Cambodia and only the third protected by any government. The move came in the wake of CEPF support for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and two local CSOs, the Cambodian Rural Development Team and Community Economic Development. 

The Cambodian model hints at the variety of protected areas needed for effective conservation in diverse settings. CEPF champions an array of natural protected areas, from vast desert national parks to comparatively tiny community-managed forests.

Innovative private reserve under way in Caribbean Islands Hotspot

In the Dominican Republic, with help from CEPF, a 400 hectare forest is poised to become the country’s first private nature reserve under a 2011 law permitting the creation of such reserves and compensation for landowners. Reserva Privada Zorzal would help build a conservation corridor between the reserves of Loma Guaconejo and Loma Quita Espuela. Reserva Privada Zorzal would also symbolically bridge North and South. It sits on the wintering grounds of Bicknell’s thrush (Catharus bicknelli), a rare songbird that summers and breeds in mountains of northeastern North America, including New York State. 

The reserve has won the backing of a dozen partners, from Dominican ice cream company Helados Bon and environmental alliance Consorcio Ambiental Dominicano to the New York-based Eddy Foundation and the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. Additionally, the reserve has sold the first carbon offsets from the island of Hispaniola as part of a plan for long-term funding for the reserve.

“By being the first established Private Reserve in the Dominican Republic, Reserva Zorzal is developing an innovative framework for private landowners to engage in biodiversity conservation,” said the Vermont Center’s Charles Kerchner. 

Tradition underlies land management in Mediterranean Basin

Another key to protecting natural areas lies in community stewardship. In the Anti-Lebanon Mountains on the Lebanese-Syrian border, overgrazing and overhunting are threatening a fragile habitat of degraded juniper forests, a haven for migratory birds. 

“The region is at the heart of a major flyway between Eurasian breeding grounds and African wintering grounds,” said Sharif Jbour, program officer for BirdLife International. Supported in part by a grant from CEPF, BirdLife’s local partner, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), is reviving the Arabian practice of the Hima (protected area), which involves local communities in sustainable land use, and adding modern conservation methods. 

For SPNL, that means educating the community on sustainable hunting and grazing, as well as training women in two traditions: carpet weaving and management of natural resources. With new community curbs on grazing and hunting, said Jbour, there are “big hopes for the natural vegetation to recover” and better support the millions of birds that pass through.
Fast Fact
​A 2010 study1 found that from 2000 to 2010, CEPF’s investment of $124 million benefited one-quarter of the world’s Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), which are area sites of global significance for biodiversity conservation, covering an areaequivalent to the size of Alaska. While that investment represented only 0.5 percent of total biodiversity-related aid to developing countries during the decade, it was a vital contribution to conservation of the world’s biodiversity hotspots by helping to establish 6 percent of all terrestrial area put under protection from 2000 to 2010.

1 Crosse, W. 2010. 10 years of CEPF investment to support the Convention on Biological Diversity 2010 target. Report, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Conservation International, Arlington, VA.16pp.​